Veterinarians are warning dog owners about a new, highly contagious strain of the canine flu that is rapidly spreading across the country.
It’s called H3N2 -- and positive cases were recently confirmed in Texas.
“I mean, it’s so new, it’s beyond belief,” said Don Praeger, a dog owner and Executive Director of the Arlington Humane Society.
The first time Praeger heard anything about the virus was this week, when he was on a conference call with other humane societies from across the country.
“It’s a big problem,” said Praeger. “We need to get the dog owning public aware of this and we need to get them to vaccinate their dogs.”
The new strain can be fatal in dogs and is more easily spread than other strains veterinarians have seen.
“It’s something in the magnitude of a hundred times more transmissible than previous strains of flu,” said Dr. Mac Todd, a veterinarian that works with the Arlington Humane Society.
Just last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture licensed two companies to begin producing and selling an H3N2 vaccine. The first batches of that vaccine are now making their way into Texas veterinary offices.
No positive cases of the virus have been confirmed in DFW, but an outbreak near Austin has forced at least one kennel there to close. With H3N2 that close, Todd says it’s only a matter of time before it reaches North Texas – and local dog owners need to take action now.
“The vaccine schedule is two vaccines given two to four weeks apart,” said Todd.
That means it will take several weeks for the vaccine to have any effect on a dog.
Praeger brought his own dog, Cooper, to Todd Thursday to get his first vaccine. He hopes other dog owners decide to play it safe, so they’re not sorry later.
“Let’s get the dogs vaccinated,” said Praeger.
Dog owners are encouraged to check with their veterinarians on the availability of the vaccine.
The Arlington Humane Society will begin offering it at their low cost clinics this weekend. You can call the society at 817-468-0444 for more information about prices and locations.